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Sarojini Naidu - The Nightingale of India

You may also like - Shivaji Maharaj, History of the Tirangaa, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Sarojini Naidu, The Nightingale of India, was a famous Indian poet and a famous freedom fighter. She was the first Indian woman to be appointed the President of the Indian National Congress and the Governor of Uttar Pradesh in India. Most of all, she was a noted child prodigy and a master of children's literature.

Sarojini Naidu was born on February 13, 1879 at Hyderabad in a Bengali Hindu family. She was the eldest daughter of scientist, philosopher, and educator Aghornath Chattopadhyaya, and Barada Sundari Devi, a poetess. Sarojini was a very bright girl. At a very young age of 12, she topped the entire Presidency in Matriculation examination from Madras University. Due to her passion for reading, she took a break from studies and involved herself in extensive reading on various subjects.  In 1895, at the age of sixteen, she traveled to England to study first at King's College London and subsequently at Girton College, Cambridge.

Whilst still in college, Sarojini met Dr. Muthyala Govindarajulu Naidu and both grew closer. Upon finishing her studies in 1898, they got married. This was a time when inter-caste were marriages were rare and considered a crime in the Indian society. Nonetheless, the successful marriage of the couple prevented people from intervening with their personal lives.

Sarojini Naidu will be always remembered for her notable contribution to the Indian Independence Movement. She joined the movement in 1905 and was totally committed to the cause ever since. While working for the Indian National Congress, she was introduced to many eminent personalities such as Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi with whom she shared a special bond and a very good rapport.

During 1915-1918, she traveled across India, lecturing on social welfare, women empowerment, emancipation and nationalism. Inspired by Jawaharlal Nehru, she embarked on providing help and support for the indigo workers in Champaran who were being subjected to violence and oppression.

She was responsible for awakening the women of India. She re-established their self-esteem and often said, "When there is oppression, the only self-respecting thing is to rise and say this shall cease today, because justice is my right”.

With the introduction of the Rowlatt Act in 1919, Sarojini joined the Non-Cooperation Movement organized and led by Mahatma Gandhi. In the same year, she was appointed the Home Rule League's ambassador to England. In 1924, she became a delegate to the East African Indian Congress. In 1925, Naidu was appointed the President of the National Congress thus making her the first Indian woman to hold the post. With the Indian Independence in 1947, Sarojini Naidu was made the Governor of the Uttar Pradesh in the wake of her contribution to the movement.

The Nightingale of India, Sarojini Naidu was a prolific writer and poet. She published many notable volumes of poetry such as The Golden Threshold, The Bird of Time, The Broken Wing. Some of her acclaimed poems are The Wizard Mask and A Treasury of Poems. Other selected works written by her include The Magic Tree and The Gift of India. Gopal Krishna Gokhale once advised her to use her poetry and her beautiful words to rejuvenate the spirit of independence in the hearts of villagers and also asked her to use her talent to free Mother India. She was given the name Bharat Kokila on account of the beautiful and rhythmic words of her poems that could be sung as well.

On March 2 1949, she took her last breath and India lost her beloved child, “Bulbul”. She died in her office at Lucknow at the age of seventy. Nevertheless, her name will be written in Gold in the history of India as an inspiring poet and a brave freedom fighter.

And now, read about - Jhansi Rani Laxmi Bai, Ashoka The Great

Sarojini Naidu - The Nightingale of India

Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak

You may also like - Vinoba Bhave,  Shivaji Maharaj,  History of the Tirangaa

Lokmmanya Bal Gangadhar TilakLokmanya Bal Ganagadhar Tilak was born in Ratnagiri on July 23 1856, a year before the first war of Independence fought in 1857. Lokmanya was a title conferred on him by the public. As the British put it, he was the “father of Indian unrest”. He was a freedom fighter, teacher, journalist, editor, Sanskrit scholar, authority on Vedas and mathematician. “Swaraj ha maza janmasidha adhikar aahe ani to mi milavinach” “Swaraj (self rule) is my birthright and I shall have it.” His statement made in the court addressing the judge is still remembered today.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a bright child and very good at mathematics. The problems the teacher gave to work our on paper, Bal would do them mentally and give the answer. He also had a sense of fairness and justice from very early age. He was very independent minded and did not falter at expressing his opinions.

One day the teacher came to class and found peanut shells on the ground. “Who ate peanuts in the class and create this mess?” asked the teacher. No one came forward. “Well, if no one wants to come forward, the whole class gets the punishment.” The teacher began to give two cuts with cane to each child on the hand. This was a common form punishment at schools. “I did not eat those peanuts, I will not take the punishment” said Bal. “Well, if you do not want the punishment, tell me the name of the boy who did eat” said the angry teacher. “I am taught not to tell tales and I cannot tell you the name of the boy. However, I did not make that mess and I will not be punished for it.” Bal was not afraid to stand up against injustice from a very young age. He loved to hear the stories from his grandfather. His grandfather lived in Kashi during the 1857 Revolution and told him the stories of Nana Saheb, Tatya Tope and Jhansi Rani LakshmiBai.

When Bal was ten years of age, the family moved from Ratnagiri to Poona (modern day Pune). The move was very good for Bal’s education. He joined the Anglo-Vernacular School which had renowned teachers. Within a few months, his mother passed away. When Bal was 16 years old, his father passed away. Bal was married to a girl named Satyabhama who was 10 years old.

He graduated with B.A and LLB degrees. When he joined college, he was weak in health. The desire to serve his country was instilled in him by the stories his grandfather told him. A weak man cannot make any sacrifices, so he exercised regularly and by the end of his first year in college, he developed a well muscled body. He believed that “Religion and practical life are not different. To take to Sanyasa (renunciation) is not to abandon life. The real spirit is to make the country your family instead of working only for your own. The step beyond is to serve humanity and the next step is to serve God.” The concept of “swaraj” was unfamiliar and Tilak thought a good education could promote patriotism. With his classmate Gopal Ganesh Agarkar and Vishnushastry Chiplunkar, Tilak founded the New English School. It soon blossomed and transformed into the “Deccan Education Society”. This society founded the Fergusson College in Pune and today runs Fergusson College and the Greater Maharashtra Commerce and Economics College in Pune, the Willington College in Sangli and the Bombay College in Bombay as well as a number of high schools. The trio also started two newspapers “Kesari” in Marathi and “Maratha” in English.

In 1890, due to differences with the board of Deccan Education Society, Tilak was forced to resign. With a heavy heart, he bid farewell to the very institutes he founded and worked for ten years. He then became active politically.

From 1890 to 1897, he waged his war against the British rulers through his columns in his newspapers. He also used his newspaper columns for social reforms and called for a ban on child marriages and promoted widow remarriages. He transformed local celebrations of Ganapathi Festival and the birthday of the Shivaji into national festivals to organize people. He was a member of the Municipal Council of Pune, a member of the Bombay Legislature, and an elected 'Fellow' of the Bombay University, he was also taking a leading part in the Congress sessions. Added to these, he wrote and published his maiden work 'Orion'.

In 1896, famine and plague spread from Mumbai to Pune. The assistant collector of Pune, Mr. Rand mishandled the humanitarian catastrophe with brutal methods. His methods included destroying houses, transporting healthy people to hospitals, burning all the belongings and sending military men with guns into the houses. At the same time, the Government continued with the celebrations for Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign. Tilak wrote a scathing article in his newspaper and quoted Gita “no blame could be attached to anyone who killed an oppressor without any thought of reward”. Mr. Rand and his assistant were killed and Tilak was arrested and charged with inciting the murder. In the court he made his most famous statement, “Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it.” In the jail he wrote “The Arctic home in the Vedas”.

In 1905, Lord Curzon divided Bengal on communal lines. Tilak called for the boycott of English goods and the movement came to be known as the Swadeshi Movment. He opposed the moderate views of Gopal Krishna Gokhale and his nationalist views were supported by Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal. The trio became Lal-Bal-Pal. In the annual Congress meeting in 1907 at Surat, Congress split into the Jahal Matavadi (“hot faction’ or the extremist) and the ‘Maval Matavadi’ (Soft Faction or the moderates).

On April 30, 1908 two youths Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose, threw a bomb on a carriage with the intentions to kill District Judge Douglass Kenford . Instead they killed some women traveling in the carriage. Tilak, in his paper Kesari, defended the two and reiterated his demand for Swaraj. He was charged with sedition and arrested. Tilak asked a young Muhammed Ali Jinnah to represent him. Tilak was sentenced to Mandalay Burma from 1908-1914. Tilak was 52 years old then and had diabetes. The masses were not sure he would last his prison term. His rigorous imprisonment was reduced to simple imprisonment which enabled him to read and write. During this time he wrote “Geeta Rahasya” in Marathi. He also learnt German and French through the “teach yourself” books. Meanwhile, in India, his wife passed away while Tilak was serving his term in Mandalay.

After completing his term, Tilak rejoined the Congress in 1916. From 1916-1918 he also helped in founding the All India Home Rule League with Joseph Baptista, Annie Besant and Muhammed Ali Jinnah. A journalist named Chirol who was visiting India, charged Tilak as “leader of violent revolution in India”. Tilak took him to the courts in England and had to travel and spend 13 months there. During his stay in England, he addressed hundreds of meetings and intensified the Home Rule movement. He also built good relationships with leaders of the labor party. “Jalianwala Bagh Massacre” made Tilak to rush back to India.He issued a call to the Indians not to stop their movement no matter what happened, till their demands were met. The jail term at Mandalay, Burma ravaged his old body. Tilak was feeling very weak but would not stop his efforts of awakening the spirit for freedom in the masses. He visited Sangli, Hyderabad, Karachi, Solapur and Kashi where he addressed large crowds. He arrived in Bombay. In the early hours of August 1 1920, his old body gave up and the Kesari (lion) of India breathed his last.

Two Lakh people witnessed his last journey. Mahatma Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Rai, Shaukat Ali and others shouldered the bier by turns.

He led a simple life, and offered himself, body and soul, to the service of his country. Tilak had no property. His clothes were very simple. A dhoti, a shirt, a shawl on the shoulder and a red 'Pagadi' (a marathi cap) on his head. In many ways he was the architect of India’s Freedom Struggle. His ideas and efforts were carried on by equally worthy next generation of leaders Gandhiji, Patel, Nehru and others.

And now, read about - Maulana Abul Kalam Azad,  Swami Vivekananda

Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Jhansi Ki Rani by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

झाँसी की रानी

Jhansi Ki Raniसिंहासन हिल उठे राजवंशों ने भृकुटी तानी थी,
बूढ़े भारत में आई फिर से नयी जवानी थी,
गुमी हुई आज़ादी की कीमत सबने पहचानी थी,
दूर फिरंगी को करने की सबने मन में ठानी थी।
चमक उठी सन सत्तावन में, वह तलवार पुरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

कानपूर के नाना की, मुँहबोली बहन छबीली थी,
लक्ष्मीबाई नाम, पिता की वह संतान अकेली थी,
नाना के सँग पढ़ती थी वह, नाना के सँग खेली थी,
बरछी ढाल, कृपाण, कटारी उसकी यही सहेली थी।
वीर शिवाजी की गाथायें उसकी याद ज़बानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

लक्ष्मी थी या दुर्गा थी वह स्वयं वीरता की अवतार,
देख मराठे पुलकित होते उसकी तलवारों के वार,
नकली युद्ध-व्यूह की रचना और खेलना खूब शिकार,
सैन्य घेरना, दुर्ग तोड़ना ये थे उसके प्रिय खिलवार।
महाराष्टर-कुल-देवी उसकी भी आराध्य भवानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

हुई वीरता की वैभव के साथ सगाई झाँसी में,
ब्याह हुआ रानी बन आई लक्ष्मीबाई झाँसी में,
राजमहल में बजी बधाई खुशियाँ छाई झाँसी में,
सुभट बुंदेलों की विरुदावलि सी वह आयी झांसी में,
चित्रा ने अर्जुन को पाया, शिव से मिली भवानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

उदित हुआ सौभाग्य, मुदित महलों में उजियाली छाई,
किंतु कालगति चुपके-चुपके काली घटा घेर लाई,
तीर चलाने वाले कर में उसे चूड़ियाँ कब भाई,
रानी विधवा हुई, हाय! विधि को भी नहीं दया आई।
निसंतान मरे राजाजी रानी शोक-समानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

बुझा दीप झाँसी का तब डलहौज़ी मन में हरषाया,
राज्य हड़प करने का उसने यह अच्छा अवसर पाया,
फ़ौरन फौजें भेज दुर्ग पर अपना झंडा फहराया,
लावारिस का वारिस बनकर ब्रिटिश राज्य झाँसी आया।
अश्रुपूर्णा रानी ने देखा झाँसी हुई बिरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

अनुनय विनय नहीं सुनती है, विकट शासकों की माया,
व्यापारी बन दया चाहता था जब यह भारत आया,
डलहौज़ी ने पैर पसारे, अब तो पलट गई काया,
राजाओं नव्वाबों को भी उसने पैरों ठुकराया।
रानी दासी बनी, बनी यह दासी अब महरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

छिनी राजधानी दिल्ली की, लखनऊ छीना बातों-बात,
कैद पेशवा था बिठुर में, हुआ नागपुर का भी घात,
उदैपुर, तंजौर, सतारा, करनाटक की कौन बिसात?
जबकि सिंध, पंजाब ब्रह्म पर अभी हुआ था वज्र-निपात।
बंगाले, मद्रास आदि की भी तो वही कहानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

रानी रोयीं रिनवासों में, बेगम ग़म से थीं बेज़ार,
उनके गहने कपड़े बिकते थे कलकत्ते के बाज़ार,
सरे आम नीलाम छापते थे अंग्रेज़ों के अखबार,
'नागपूर के ज़ेवर ले लो लखनऊ के लो नौलख हार'।
यों परदे की इज़्ज़त परदेशी के हाथ बिकानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

कुटियों में भी विषम वेदना, महलों में आहत अपमान,
वीर सैनिकों के मन में था अपने पुरखों का अभिमान,
नाना धुंधूपंत पेशवा जुटा रहा था सब सामान,
बहिन छबीली ने रण-चण्डी का कर दिया प्रकट आहवान।
हुआ यज्ञ प्रारम्भ उन्हें तो सोई ज्योति जगानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

महलों ने दी आग, झोंपड़ी ने ज्वाला सुलगाई थी,
यह स्वतंत्रता की चिनगारी अंतरतम से आई थी,
झाँसी चेती, दिल्ली चेती, लखनऊ लपटें छाई थी,
मेरठ, कानपूर, पटना ने भारी धूम मचाई थी,
जबलपूर, कोल्हापूर में भी कुछ हलचल उकसानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

इस स्वतंत्रता महायज्ञ में कई वीरवर आए काम,
नाना धुंधूपंत, ताँतिया, चतुर अज़ीमुल्ला सरनाम,
अहमदशाह मौलवी, ठाकुर कुँवरसिंह सैनिक अभिराम,
भारत के इतिहास गगन में अमर रहेंगे जिनके नाम।
लेकिन आज जुर्म कहलाती उनकी जो कुरबानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

इनकी गाथा छोड़, चले हम झाँसी के मैदानों में,
जहाँ खड़ी है लक्ष्मीबाई मर्द बनी मर्दानों में,
लेफ्टिनेंट वाकर आ पहुँचा, आगे बड़ा जवानों में,
रानी ने तलवार खींच ली, हुया द्वन्द्ध असमानों में।
ज़ख्मी होकर वाकर भागा, उसे अजब हैरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

रानी बढ़ी कालपी आई, कर सौ मील निरंतर पार,
घोड़ा थक कर गिरा भूमि पर गया स्वर्ग तत्काल सिधार,
यमुना तट पर अंग्रेज़ों ने फिर खाई रानी से हार,
विजयी रानी आगे चल दी, किया ग्वालियर पर अधिकार।
अंग्रेज़ों के मित्र सिंधिया ने छोड़ी रजधानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

विजय मिली, पर अंग्रेज़ों की फिर सेना घिर आई थी,
अबके जनरल स्मिथ सम्मुख था, उसने मुहँ की खाई थी,
काना और मंदरा सखियाँ रानी के संग आई थी,
युद्ध श्रेत्र में उन दोनों ने भारी मार मचाई थी।
पर पीछे ह्यूरोज़ आ गया, हाय! घिरी अब रानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

तो भी रानी मार काट कर चलती बनी सैन्य के पार,
किन्तु सामने नाला आया, था वह संकट विषम अपार,
घोड़ा अड़ा, नया घोड़ा था, इतने में आ गये अवार,
रानी एक, शत्रु बहुतेरे, होने लगे वार-पर-वार।
घायल होकर गिरी सिंहनी उसे वीर गति पानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

रानी गई सिधार चिता अब उसकी दिव्य सवारी थी,
मिला तेज से तेज, तेज की वह सच्ची अधिकारी थी,
अभी उम्र कुल तेइस की थी, मनुज नहीं अवतारी थी,
हमको जीवित करने आयी बन स्वतंत्रता-नारी थी,
दिखा गई पथ, सिखा गई हमको जो सीख सिखानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

जाओ रानी याद रखेंगे ये कृतज्ञ भारतवासी,
यह तेरा बलिदान जगावेगा स्वतंत्रता अविनासी,
होवे चुप इतिहास, लगे सच्चाई को चाहे फाँसी,
हो मदमाती विजय, मिटा दे गोलों से चाहे झाँसी।
तेरा स्मारक तू ही होगी, तू खुद अमिट निशानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

Jhansi Ki Rani by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

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